What does the future hold for Arielle Metzger, one of the subjects of yesterday's story? I mean, she's obviously an intelligent and articulate young woman. What does the future hold for all these children, the 25 million children living in dire poverty, and the tens of millions who aren't far from it?
First things first: When you're living under conditions of such dire poverty, pretty much everything seems beyond your grasp. College looks like it might be a possibility in abstraction, but the reality is that a haphazard education caused by being homeless and moving from school to school makes scholarships problematic and grant and state subsidy programs have been gutted to the point where they'll no longer pay for poor children's college educations. Finding a way might happen, but it would be through heroic efforts and the chances... slim.
What other careers might she look at? My guess is that by this time next year she's going to be working as a waitress or as a clerk to make money to bring home to the family. She's going to do this because it's life, that's what you do, you do whatever it takes to get by, and it's what you can do if you're young and reasonably good looking and have no skills other than your ability to charm people. She's going to go to school tired and sleepy in the mornings, she's going to go to work a couple of hours after she gets out of school after studying that amount of time, and then go to sleep. Wash, rinse, repeat.
Hopefully she won't get pregnant. But a lot of girls in her situation do get pregnant, because that would qualify the teenb and the child for AFDC, housing subsidies, and a lot of other assistance they don't get as homeless teenagers.
Could she have been the next great composer? The next great inventor? The physicist who finally solves the problem of nuclear fusion? A soccer star? One of the great actresses of the world? The biomedical doctor who finally finds a cure for the common cold? We'll never know, because ten years from now she'll be taking someone's order in a restaurant, her looks will have already started to fade from the years of poor food and lack of access to good medical care and information about exercise and keeping yourself fit, and that's going to be her life, forever.
That is the sad thing of all this refusal of America and Americans to collectively take care of our children: The waste. The utter waste. Arielle is not an idiot. With sufficient bootstraps, she could make something of herself far better than her current fate. What good for our nation have we thrown away, by this refusal to invest in our children? And what kind of a nation, what kind of people, is it, anyhow, that views a few dollars of tax money more important than children?
-- Badtux the Sad Penguin